With his book Hot, Flat and Crowded Thomas Friedman has entered the world of the Futurist.
The term futurist isn’t really used much any more, mainly because futurists are always wrong. Futurism was big in the 1970’s – such people as Alvin Toffler, Paul Erhlich, James Hansen, John Holdren and the club of Rome are famous futurists from that era. Think sideburns, big hair, tight polyester pants, and disco. Who would want to be associated with that tacky garbage. Current futurists inlcude Paul Ehrlich, James Hansen, John Holdren, GCMs and the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers
In the 1970’s futurism became popular because of the advent of relatively inexpensive computing power. Using the magic of mathematics, the veneer of technology, and the credulity of the public and politicians dazzled by the scientific priest class, these futurists were taken seriously.
This is unfortunate because although futurists are always wrong, like fortune tellers they continue to have credibility with certain people. Fortune tellers are actually better at their job because they are sufficiently vague and their predictions can be applied to a wide range of outcomes. Futurists make the mistake of claiming certainty. So when their predictions do not come true, it should be easy to discredit them. For some reason they are not. I think this is because at some unconcious level people understand that futurism is a kind of fortue telling, and so give them a bit of a break. As my father said to me a little while ago they’ll be right sometime. Sorry dad, but this is not true.
This is unfortunate because political and economic policy is is based on these predictions, and can seriously affect peoples lives in negative ways.
Doubly unfortunate, most of the current crop of futurists are also Malthusians.
Triply unfortunate, these futurists are given positions of power. I. E. John Holdren as Obamas science czar. And James Hansen head of NASA-GISS.
But back to Friedman, I’ll touch on the futurists again in the “future”.
Friedman isn’t a true futurist, as he isn’t a scientist himself. Instead he gathers the various futurist predictions together and mixes them with his personal prejudices and then goes on to paint a portrait of what he thinks will be the future.
One not need to read his book to discredit it, as he has put all of his predictions right in the title. Let’s go through them one by one.
Given that the earth has now cooled for 12 years, that one seems to have been proven wrong as he was writing it. Too bad he didn’t check the temperature records because he could have changed the first word in his title to “Cold”. Of course as Richard Lindzen said when he was asked about the future temperature, it will either be warmer or cooler. So Friedman could yet be proven right, but not due to any particularly magical insight on his part, instead due to random chance. So maybe we could go with “Temperate”.
I understand that this refers to his book, “the world is flat“(funny isn’t it how warmists call climate rationalists “Flat Earthers” and Friedman is so filled with credulity when it comes to the warmists?) and describes the rise of globalization, and the increasing spread of ideas and people around the globe. As I write environmentalists are proposing massive taxes on flying, and the British government seriously suggested giving people a carbon ration card. Policies such as Cap and Trade would make travel and international trade more expensive and I am guessing that since countries that enact Cap and Trade would not want to have to compete against a country that does not place an arbitrary price on the trace gas co2, they would put some sort of tarriff on their goods, which of course is protectionism.
On the side of ideas, governments around the world are proposing Chinese style net censorship, restricting the free exchange of ideas they find objectionable, and stifling dissent through over active political correctness. So maybe a better second word would have been “Shackled”.
This one requires some math coupled with some common sense. I have read that the entire population of the world could fit within the former Yugoslavia. But that sounds a little bit too close for comfort.
The Netherlands has one of the higher population densities in the world, and it seems like a very nice place to live. The Netherlands (speaking of pot smoking, legalised protituting, Van Gogh killing, of which I am one quarter descended from, Northern Europeans, I have a great story about a Dutch time travelling greenpeace activist, but I will save that for a later post, can’t use up all my good ones yet!) has a population density of 400 per square kilometer, and the world has a population density of 45 per square kilometer. That would mean for the entire world to be as populated as the Netherlands, the global population would have to be 60 000 000 000 – sixty billion. Given that humans can live anywhere on the planet using technology that we have today, it is concievable. So let’s call that outcome comfortable.
In order to be considered “crowded”, like in Gibraltar – population density 4500 per square kilometer – the world population would have to be closer to 600 000 000 000 – six hundred billion. That would be crowded.
Given that the latest analysis of the trends find that world population is going to max out around 10 000 000 000 – ten billion or 67 per square kilometer, and then begin declining due to rising affluence(that is of course if the ecofascists don’t get their way), the world of the future could be more accurately be described as “spacious”
So It turns out that Friedman should have called his book
“Temperate, shackled and spacious.”
Not too late to change the name for the paperback edition. I’ll ask for royalties though.
Therefore you can completely ignore this book, as it will add nothing to the discourse, if anything it could distract us from real problems in the world. Any pronouncements or recommendations for future action should not be heeded by politicians, or the general public, except of course by other useful idiots.
And like futurists before him, no-one will remember how wrong he was.